late Old English castel "village" (this sense from a biblical usage in Vulgar Latin); later "large building or series of connected buildings fortified for defense, fortress, stronghold" (late Old English), in this sense from Old North French castel (Old French chastel, 12c.; Modern French château), from Latin castellum "a castle, fort, citadel, stronghold; fortified village," diminutive of castrum "fort," from Proto-Italic *kastro- "part, share;" cognate with Old Irish cather, Welsh caer "town" (probably related to castrare via notion of "cut off," from PIE root *kes- "to cut"). In early bibles, castle was used to translate Greek kome "village."
Latin castrum in its plural castra was used for "military encampment, military post" and thus it came into Old English as ceaster and formed the -caster and -chester in place names. Spanish alcazar "castle" is from Arabic al-qasr, from Latin castrum. Castles in Spain "visionary project, vague imagination of possible wealth" translates 14c. French chastel en Espaigne (the imaginary castles sometimes stood in Brie, Asia, or Albania) and probably reflects the hopes of landless knights to establish themselves abroad. The statement that an (English) man's home is his castle is from 16c.
THAT the house of every man is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injuries and violence, as for his repose .... [Edward Coke, "Semaynes Case," 1604]
mid-15c., "a certain length" of something; 1520s, "gash, incision, opening made by an edged instrument," from cut (v.).
Meaning "piece cut off" (especially of meat) is from 1590s. Figurative sense of "a wounding sarcasm" is from 1560s. Meaning "an excision or omission of a part" is from c. 1600. Sense of "a reduction" is by 1881. Meaning "manner in which a thing is cut" is from 1570s, hence "fashion, style, make" (1580s).
Dialectal or local sense of "a creek or inlet" is from 1620s. Meaning "channel or trench made by cutting or digging" is from 1730. Meaning "block or stamp on which a picture is engraved" is from 1640s. Sense of "act of cutting a deck of cards" is from 1590s. Cinematic sense of "a quick transition from one shot to the next" is by 1933. Meaning "share" (of profit, loot, etc.) is by 1918.
Meaning "phonograph recording" is by 1949; the verb in the sense "make a recording" is by 1937, from the literal sense in reference to the mechanical process of making sound recordings.
Instead of a cutting tool actually operated by the sound vibrations from the voices or instruments of performing artists, the panatrope records are cut by a tool that is operated electrically. ["The New Electric Phonograph," in Popular Science, February 1926].
A cut above "a degree better than" is from 1818. Cold-cuts "cooked meats sliced and served cold" (1945) translates German kalter Aufschnitt.
c. 1300, "grating or open frame with bars or pegs upon which things are hung or placed," especially for kitchen use, possibly from Middle Dutch rec "framework," literally "something stretched out, related to recken (modern rekken) "stretch out," cognate with Old English reccan "to stretch out," from Proto-Germanic *rak- (source also of Old Saxon rekkian, Old Frisian reza, Old Norse rekja, Old High German recchen, German recken, Gothic uf-rakjan "to stretch out"), from PIE root *reg- "to move in a straight line."
Or it might have developed from the Old English verb. The sense of "frame on which clothes or skins are stretched to dry" is by early 14c. The sense of "framework above a manger for holding hay or other fodder for livestock" is from mid-14c. As the name of a type of instrument of torture by early 15c., perhaps from German rackbank, originally an implement for stretching leather, etc. Sense of "punishment by the rack" is by 1580s.
Mechanical meaning "metal bar with teeth on one edge" is from 1797 (see pinion). Meaning "set of antlers" is first attested 1945, American English; hence slang sense of "a woman's breasts" (especially if large), by 1991. Meaning "framework for displaying clothes" is from 1948; hence off the rack (1951) of clothing, as opposed to tailored.
Middle English sellen, from Old English sellan "to give (something to someone), furnish, supply, lend; surrender, give up; deliver to; promise," from Proto-Germanic *saljanan "offer up, deliver" (source also of Old Norse selja "to hand over, deliver, sell;" Old Frisian sella, Old High German sellen "to give, hand over, sell;" Gothic saljan "to offer a sacrifice"), ultimately from PIE root *sel- (3) "to take, grasp."
Meaning "to give up for money, accept a price or reward for" had emerged by late Old English, but in Chaucer selle still can mean "to give." Students of Old English learn early that the word they encounter that looks like sell usually means "give." An Old English word for "to sell" was bebycgan, from bycgan "to buy."
The meaning "betray for gain" is from c. 1200. Slang meaning "to swindle" is from 1590s. To sell off "dispose of by sale, sell all of" is by 1700. To sell one's soul "make a contract with the devil," often figurative, is from c. 1570. Sell-by in reference to dates stamped on perishable packaged foods is from 1972. To sell like hot cakes is from 1839. To sell (someone) down the river figuratively is by 1927, probably from or with recollection of slavery days, on notion of sale from the Upper South to the cotton plantations of the Deep South (attested in this literal sense since 1851).
"detached, kept apart, divided from the rest," c. 1600, from separate (v.) or from Latin separatus. Separate also was used as a past-participle adjective in Middle English, "cut off from the main body," also, of a spouse, "estranged." The meaning "individual, particular" is from 1670s, on the notion of "withdrawn or divided from something else," hence "peculiar to one but not others."
Separate but equal in reference to U.S. segregation policies on railroads, etc. is attested by 1890 (Henry W. Grady); it was used in 1870s of medical courses for women at universities. Separate development, official name of apartheid in South Africa, is from 1955. Related: Separately (1550s); separateness.
Frequently the colored coach is little better than a cattle car. Generally one half the smoking car is reserved for the colored car. Often only a cloth curtain or partition run half way up separates this so-called colored car from the smoke, obscene language, and foul air of the smokers' half of the car. All classes and conditions of colored humanity, from the most cultured and refined to the most degraded and filthy, without regard to sex, good breeding or ability to pay for better accommodation, are crowded into this separate, but equal (?) half car. [Rev. Norman B. Wood, "The White Side of a Black Subject," 1897]
Middle English shirt, shirte, "garment for the upper body worn next to the skin," from Old English scyrte, from Proto-Germanic *skurtjon "a short garment" (source also of Old Norse skyrta, Swedish skjorta "skirt, kirtle;" Middle Dutch scorte, Dutch schort "apron;" Middle Low German schörte, Middle High German schurz, German Schurz "apron"), which is perhaps related to Old English scort, sceort "short," etc., from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut," on the notion of "a cut piece."
OED notes that "the meaning of the word in OE. is obscure, as the only instance of its occurrence is a gloss in which the meaning of the Latin word was probably not understood." Lithuanian šarkas "shirt," Old Church Slavonic sraka "tunic," Russian soročka, Finnish sarkki "shirt" perhaps are from Germanic.
Formerly of the chief under-garment worn by both men and women, but in modern use it has long been only that for men; in reference to women's tops, the word was reintroduced 1896.
Bloody shirt, a blood-stained shirt exposed as a symbol of some outrage, to arouse indignation or resentment, is attested from 1580s, usually figurative. Shirt since late 14c. often has been figurative of one's goods or possessions, hence give (someone) the shirt off one's back (1771); lose one's shirt "suffer total financial loss" (1935). To keep one's shirt on "be patient" (1904) is from the notion of (not) stripping down for a fight.
[sound a bell; emit a resonant sound] Old English hringan "cause (a bell) to sound;" also "announce or celebrate by the ringing of bells," from Proto-Germanic *khrengan (source also of Old Norse hringja, Swedish ringa, Middle Dutch ringen), probably of imitative origin. Related: Rang; rung.
Originally a weak verb, the strong inflection began in early Middle English by influence of sing, etc. The intransitive sense of "give a certain resonant sound when struck" is by c. 1200. Of places, "resound, re-echo," c. 1300. Of the ears or head, "have a continued buzz or hum in reaction to exposure to noise," by late 14c. In reference to a telephone, intransitive, by 1924; as "to call (someone) on a telephone by 1880, with up (adv.). The verb was much used in phrases of 20c. telephoning, such as ring off "hang up," ring back "return a call," ring in "report by telephone."
To ring down (or up) a theatrical curtain, "direct it to be let down" (or up) is by 1772, from the custom of signaling for it by ringing a bell; hence, in a general sense "bring to a conclusion." To ring up a purchase on a cash register is by 1937, from the bell that sounds in the machine. The specialized sense, especially in reference to coins, "give a resonant sound when struck as an indication of genuineness or purity," is by c. 1600, with transferred use (as in ring hollow) by 1610s. For ring a bell "awaken a memory," see bell (n.).
c. 1500, "fortune good or bad, what happens to one by chance (conceived as being favorable or not); good luck, quality of having a tendency to receive desired or beneficial outcomes," not found in Old English, probably from early Middle Dutch luc, shortening of gheluc "happiness, good fortune," a word of unknown origin. It has cognates in Modern Dutch geluk, Middle High German g(e)lücke, German Glück "fortune, good luck."
Perhaps first borrowed in English as a gambling term. To be down on (one's) luck is from 1832; to be in luck is from 1857; to push (one's) luck is from 1911. Good luck as a salutation to one setting off to do something is from 1805. Expression no such luck, expressing disappointment that something did not or will not happen, is by 1835. Better luck next time as an expression of encouragement in the face of disappointment is from 1858, but the expression itself is older:
A gentleman was lately walking through St Giles's, where a levelling citizen attempting to pick his pocket of a handkerchief, which the gentleman caught in time, and secured, observing to the fellow, that he had missed his aim, the latter, with perfect sang-froid, answered, "better luck next time master." [Monthly Mirror, London, September 1802]
Luck of the draw (1892) is from card-playing. In expressions often ironical, as in just (my) luck (1909). To be out of luck is from 1789; to have one's luck run out is from 1966.
plural of man (n.). In common with German Männer, etc., it shows effects of i-mutation. Used as an indefinite pronoun ("one, people, they") from late Old English. Men's liberation first attested 1970. Men's room "a lavatory for men" is by 1908, American English. Earlier it had a more general sense:
men's room, n. "One end of this [cook and dining] room is partitioned off for a men's room, where the crew sit evenings, smoking, reading, singing, grinding their axes, telling stories, etc., before climbing the ladder to their night's rest in the bunk room ... For many years women have been employed in [logging] camps as cooks, hence the name men's room, for the crew are not allowed in the cook room except at meal time." [quoted in "Some Lumber and Other Words," in Dialect Notes, vol. II, part VI, 1904]
Menswear (also men's wear) "clothes for men" is by 1906. To separate the men from the boys in a figurative sense "distinguish the manly, mature, capable, etc. in a group from the rest" is from 1943; earliest uses tend to credit it to U.S. aviators in World War II.
One of the most expressive G.I. terms to come out of the late strife was "that's where they separate the men from the boys" — so stated by American aviators leaning from their cockpits to observe a beach-landing under fire on some Pacific island far below. ["Arts Magazine," 1947]
"pointed stick or post; stick of wood sharpened at one end for driving into the ground, used as part of a fence, as a boundary-mark, as a post to tether an animal to, or as a support for something (a vine, a tent, etc.)," Old English staca "pin, stake," from Proto-Germanic *stakon (source also of Old Norse stiaki "a stake, pole, candlestick,"Old Frisian stake, Middle Dutch stake, Dutch staak "a stake, post," Middle Low German stake "a stake, post, pillory, prison"), from PIE root *steg- (1) "pole, stick." The Germanic word was borrowed in Romanic (Spanish and Portuguese estaca "a stake," Old French estaque, estache, Italian stacca "a hook"), and was borrowed back as attach.
Meaning "post to which a person condemned to death by burning is bound" is from c. 1200, also "post to which a bear to be baited is tied" (late 14c.). Meaning "vertical bar fixed in a socket or in staples on the edge of the bed of a platform railway-car or of a vehicle to secure the load from rolling off, or, when a loose substance, as gravel, etc., is carried, to hold in place boards which retain the load," is by 1875; hence stake-body as a type of truck (1903).
Pull up stakes was used c. 1400 as "abandon a position" (the allusion is to pulling up the stakes of a tent); the modern American English figurative expression in the sense of "move one's habitation" is by 1703.